Saturday, February 22, 2014

Anderson Manufacturing AR15 Barrel, Bolt and Lower Receiver Review

Anderson Manufacturing AR15 Barrel, Bolt and Lower Receiver Review
Whether you are building your first AR15, upgrading, or looking for parts to create your next build, we are all looking for high quality parts at reasonable prices. This is Anderson Manufacturing’s sweet spot. High quality AR15 parts at very affordable prices.

Everyone seems to know Anderson Manufacturing for great deals on AR15 parts. At one point, Anderson was offering $70 stripped lower receivers at the height of the AR15 shortage. Beyond the great prices are parts, it is Anderson’s RF85 lubrication free parts treatment which started them building AR15 rifles. The funny thing is that I only have experience with their standard untreated parts.  If you want the benefits of the RF85, then you need to order a complete rifle from Anderson manufacturing. With or without the RF85 treatment, Anderson delivers great parts at very reasonable prices for piecing together your next AR15 build. 
 ABOUT ANDERSON MANUFACTURING
Unlike the drove of “really brand new” companies offering AR15s, Anderson manufacturing is passing its 50th year in business. Over the years they have provided manufacturing services for a wide variety of end users from automotive, to medical to weaponry.  Those efforts made automobiles more dependable, troop support, and complex manufacturing solution resolution.

Along the way Anderson has been making AR-15 parts for other manufacturing…. actually hundreds of thousands of parts. Along the way they developed an exclusive and proprietary RF85 coating which is applied to their complete AR-15 rifles which they have taught'ed as the world’s only AR-15 that never needs oiling.

As opposed to other rifle companies, Anderson builds its our own parts using the latest in computerized manufacturing with all parts carrying a lifetime warranty.

THE BUILD
As I looked around my Liberty Safe and through my parts bin, I realized I was not that far from having another complete AR15 rifle. Isn’t that always the case. You know… all I needed was a barrel, gas block and tube, bolt carrier group, and charging handle.


My previously featured Anderson Manufacturing lower receiver has served me well and I even built another Anderson based AR15 for a friend. As a guy in need of some key AR15 parts under a budget, I fired up the laptop and started dropping things in the cart on their site for this build and a few other builds. My final order around $300 also scored free shipping and included:
- 16" M4 Carbine Length Contour Barrel Chambered 5.56/.223 With A 1-8 Twist
- A2 Flash Suppressor 5.56/.223
- Low Profile Gas Block
- Carbine Length Gas Tube
- Semi-Auto Carrier
- Standard Charging Handle

The order shipped quick and I was ready to start bolting together my next new AR15. The parts on hand that spurred this adventure included a Fortis upper receiver and brake, Samson rail/forend, a  Barnes Precision parts kit, and my original complete Andersen lower with Mako Group grip and stock. Pawing through the parts bin further, I found an older Insight weaponlight, a front Magpul BU sights and then picked up a used Millet DMS and the rear Magpul sight on eBay for another $100.


FIT, FINISH, FEEL, & FEATURES
All the standard Anderson parts are mil-spec phosphate or hard anodize finished but unlike the flood of import parts, their parts are all still 100% made in the USA.  The quality is also far better than what I have seen from the budget conscious import parts - do not let the price fool you. From my calculations you could build a complete AR from parts for around $600-$700 surfing around on Anderson's site.

I have been thrilled with 1:8 Twist Anderson barrel. Many people are discovering the advantages and bullet weight flexibility of 1:8 twist barrels as a compromise to 1:9 twist that like lighter bullets and Milspec 1:7 twist barrels which are most accurate with heavy bullets. Anderson's  $119 16" 1:8 M4 Carbine Length Contour Barrel in 5.56/.223 is probably the least expensive entry price for AR builders. The barrel still delivers excellent accuracy for a barrel which competitors price at nearly twice this price. Actually as I experienced before, each Anderson piece used in this build is an excellent value from the $16 low profile gas block to the $20 charging handle.

FUNCTIONS
After bolting the build together with my Precision Reflex vise block and tools,  I realized my creation was a pretty nice looking rifle thanks to the little custom pieces like the Fortis receiver and brake, Samson extended forend, and Mako furniture.  Functionally the build worked perfectly right off the bench spitting out over 200 rounds of reloads and assorted available ammo from Winchester, Hornady, Federal, and Steel Cased ammo. I am always happy when everything actually works the first time out on the range.

A Millet DMS topped the rifle to push out the accuracy a bit.  Accuracy delivered from the Anderson Manufacturing based build was pretty impressive easily on par with quality Milspec AR15s. 100-yard groups averaged in the 1" range, but a few .8" groups were printed as well with the Custom and TAP Hornady ammo. The 1:8 twist shows off a bit when you are shooting a diversity of ammo and bullet weights which generally seems to deliver less accuracy variances between rounds.  If you really want to see the accuracy you gun can deliver load up two rounds each of 15 different types of ammo.  The groups will be bigger, however it will show how picky the barrel is within various ammo… an interesting experiment.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Anderson Manufacturing proves you don’t have to have a lot of money to build your next AR15. Add a few custom parts and you have something that delivers looks and performance without a lot invested.  Obviously I got lucky with a few parts here and there, however for me that is the fun in doing one of these “what do I have laying around AR15 builds” that can expand months.  Instead of hitting some of the notable discounters, I have found myself back on Anderson’s site simply because the parts are excellent quality available at some of the best prices around. Once I have these parts and have saved big, I can patiently hunt for that blem or deal for the custom parts I drool over.  Great parts and little prices.

SPECS
16" M4 Carbine Length Contour Barrel Chambered 5.56/.223 With A 1-8 Twist     $119.00
Semi-Auto Bolt Carrier Assembly $129.00
Low Profile Gas Block  $15.32     
Carbine Length Gas Tube  $15.00    
Standard Charging Handle for AR-15   $19.66

SOURCES
Anderson Manufacturing Barrel, Bolt, Charging Handle, & Lower Reciever - http://www.andersonrifles.net/
Fortis Muzzle Brake - http://fortismfg.com/
BPM Lower Parts Kit - - http://www.usamade-ar15parts.com

Saturday, February 15, 2014

HIPERTOUCH - HiperFire Trigger 24, 24E, & 24C Review

HIPERTOUCH - HiperFire Trigger 24, 24E, & 24C Review


I like great triggers and I cannot lie, you other shooters cannot deny, that when a trigger drops in fast and in place, without a spring flying in your face, you get sprung, and you finally, pull the trigger, your groups are tiny and not bigger. Ok, ok, I will leave the rapping to Sir Mix a Lot instead of Sir Shoots a Lot. I had to go there after testing the HiperTouch series of triggers simply because I was giddy with excitement and happened to be listening to the oldies rap channel.  


If you have not heard about the HiperFire line of Single-Stage triggers, you should seriously consider them. They are absolutely awesome from the HiperTouch 24 to the enhanced HiperTouch 24E, to the full blown super tuned 24C competition model all in a game changing trigger design. Yeah, I know you have heard it all before, however this time it is different.


ABOUT HIPERTOUCH - HIPERFIRE TRIGGERS

HiperTouch’s founder, Terry Bender, had an idea to overcome many of the shortcomings of “match” triggers. Terry is not just some guy filing down sears and swapping out low power springs in his garage, he is a mechanical engineering consultant. The approach to the HiperTouch design was new from the ground up. After he saw the potential of his idea in CAD simulation, he founded HIPERTOUCH in early 2011 and began testing his first prototypes in 2012. Final designs began shipping in May of 2013 to distributors and large retailers.



WHY HIPERTOUCH IS DIFFERENT
The ultimate challenge for a great tactical/hunting trigger is to deliver a smooth, fast, and flat pre-travel, very fast trigger reset, minimize lock time, assure a crisp light break, and with no noticeable overtravel all while delivering a high hammer fall impact.  With match target triggers, the goals are the same but with even more refinement of all the above, with no perceptible pretravel.


The problem is that many of these trigger design goals are all opposing forces. A smooth, fast, and flat pretravel and crisp light final break all require low forces at the sear which equates to the need for lighter hammer and trigger springs which can lead to light hammer strikes and less reliable ignition. In standard trigger designs, very fast trigger resets, minimized lock times, and high hammerfall impact require heavy springs which creates a crappy feeling heavy trigger. The final dimension is tuning out pre-travel, overtravel, and ensuring a crisp trigger break which are all impacted by the above light or heavy springs. Bad tuning can further impact reliability and safety. The end result is that trigger engineers have their work cut out for them to strike a balance for a great trigger.


The compromise has been either a great single stage trigger that may have a light hammer strike here and there with hard primers, or a 2-stage which delivers a 1st stage pre travel which some claim slows down followup shots.


HiperTouch took a different approach by adding a third set of trigger assembly springs which work against a hammer cam to deliver the best of all worlds. Think of HiperTouch HiperFire triggers this way. Imagine you had a tiny super strong little magic trigger elf who holds back most of the extra power hammer spring’s force until the instant you pulled the trigger. In essence your little trigger elf takes most of pressure off the sear union which allows for a smoother and ligther feeling trigger but still allows full hammer fall force.


HiperFire (left) vs Stnd Trigger
The magic is delivered via spring cam-ed pressure on the hammer which counteracts much of the hammer spring force within the first couple of degrees of movement around the point of sear engagement. This delivers the perfect situation for a great feeling trigger and break. After the hammer begins to move forward the cam applies pressure the other way and greatly increases the hammer force. This increases hammer fall force, decreases lock time...etc. it's a best of both worlds design and its a totally new trigger design.


Stnd Trigger Parts vs Hiperfire (center)
The HiperFire has three spring sets (light, medium-light, and medium). Initially, I though the heaviest strongest spring would deliver the heaviest trigger pull however it is the other way around. The strongest spring exerts more pressure on the cam and delivers the lightest trigger feel. This is what the dual spring and cam design of the HiperFire triggers does. It's a mind screw when you first pull back the extra force hammer and have such a light trigger pull.


FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES & FUNCTIONS
The Hipertouch 24, 24E & 24C all shared many key features. All of the triggers are AR15/AR10 fire-control compatible with any lower receiver with industry standard .154" receiver pins. The triggers are screw-less "hard" tuned with static precision springs which inherently makes the trigger more reliable than a screw tuned design which can go out of "tune".  The user can tune the trigger at 2,3, & 4 pounds with the three supplied spring sets.


Essentially all three of these semi-automatic HiperTouch HiperFire triggers are identical once the hammer begins to fall and all deliver best in class hammer fall force.  Of course with all these similarities, many will ask what is the difference between them and why woud not just opt for the best automatically. The answer is trigger tuning feel.  You certainly do not want a super sensitive trigger on a duty/defense rifle and similarly you would not want a longer pre-travel trigger on a precision match target rifle.


I HIPERTOUCH 24 $185.00
The focus of the base HiperTouch 24 is to deliver a high performance "no modification" drop-in trigger upgrade for service/defense/duty rifles.  For safety in high stress environments, the 24 delivers a flat but short and smooth per-travel with a fast reset.  By comparison, the pre-travel for this model is just a tad bit longer than the cassette design CMC and Timney triggers, but the 24's pre-travel is shorter than what you would find on a Geissele 2-stage trigger.


The HiperTouch 24 is on a pretty even feel with the CMC from a feel and intent, however the CMC has less take-up but the HiperTouch has a better break. In this case I would say the HiperTouch would best suited to those builds that demand accuracy and a margin of safety. For a defensive rifle, this would be the trigger I would choose in the lineup.


II HIPERTOUCH 24E $215.00
The 24Elite haves the initial pre-travel, delivers a faster reset, and the post reset pre travel is also shortened. In essence the 24E is tuned to be about twice as sensitive as the base 24 model for the needs of the competitive shooter, hunter and precision LE/Military sniper.   


I would not put this trigger in a general purpose defense AR15, however if you had an defense rifle which you also use for competition and precision long-range shooting, this wild be a great go to option.  This trigger is similar to the very light AR-Gold and Timney triggers, but can achieve an even lighter trigger feel with very crisp trigger feel.  The 24E has just enough pre-travel to deliver a very safe trigger, but can still deliver a match quality trigger feel.


III HIPERTOUCH 24C $235.00
Many shooters including me will say the 24Competition Model has no pre-travel, no over-travel, and a stunningly light break.  Obviously there is some sort of travel, but it is so little the finger cannot perceive it. Adding the flat straight trigger blade and adjustable shoe increases trigger control significantly.



This is an incredibly fast running trigger which I would love to see one of the top speed shooters run. The splits are incredibly fast. You are going to see more and more 3 Gunners running this trigger simply because it is so fast and light.  That said it is too sensitive for a defensive focused AR15 build in my opinion simply because the trigger seems to lack any perceptible pre-travel at all. To me it most closely aligns to a Geissele National Match trigger but in a single stage design.




The flat trigger design has become a favorite of mine in all sorts of formats from 10/22 rim fire rifles to this Ar15 design.  With the 24C, the tunable trigger shoe offers another advantage for both finger acement comfort and fine tuning of trigger weight. I mounted this in my SanTan Tactical lower receiver and clipped on a 5.45x39 upper which shoots extra hard Russian Surplus rounds.Generally, I will have 1 in 200 that will fail to detonate, however the 24C greatly reduced that soft strike failure rate to only about 1 in 500.  This shows that even the top end of the HiperTouch line can still bring it for both a stunning trigger feel and best in class hammer fall force.




FINAL THOUGHTS
HiperFire Ready to lockback
You will see these trigger quite a bit in builds going forward simply because I believe HiperTouch has delivered on a truly innovative design that actually works both theoretically and in practical use.  The price ranges are extremely competitive to other high quality triggers in the market as well... The 24 is a screaming great deal with no tunable trigger in the $185 MSRP price range.


HiperFire locked back
For all the good, there is one little drawback; installation of the two tuning springs is not as simple as a standard trigger. As you should with any gunsmith work, wear safety goggles because my tuning springs went flying a couple times between the installation of the various models. After HiperTouch read through my review they suggested I include their installation video shown above. You get the hang of the dual spring install after the first couple issues however it is the alignment and compression of the two springs which take a little patience.  

I made the suggestion to HiperTouch regarding a drop in cassette style trigger however there is no room to allow this in the HiperFire design.  It is my belief that the all-in-one triggers offer more factory tuned precision and could be pre-configured from the factory with the light-medium spring set, but in this case that idea will not work.

One of "the" selling points of the HiperTouch HiperFire triggers is the class leading hammer fall force. My 5.45x39 Ballistic Advantage barreled upper firing the Russian Surplus 5.45x39 really separates the match trigger herd quickly. The main reason is that the Russian 5.45x39 primers really need a very hard smack to reliably detonate. Every "match" trigger I have ever tested with the stubborn 5.45x39 Russian Surplus Round has decreased detonation reliability over a start AR15 MiSpec trigger simply because in almost every case, Match triggers deliver a reduced hammer fall force. I don't have a digital force gauge, but I do know that typically Match triggers have me practicing "tap and rack" drills more often than AR15 Mispec triggers. Regardless of which model, the HiperFire trigger not only delivered reliable detonation performance above a MilSpec trigger, but detonation performance on par with an extra heavy hammer spring. This should be reason alone for people to heavily consider which trigger they are installing on a defensive focused rifle. I will note that I have never had an issue with regular match triggers detonating 5.56 primers, however the HiperFire triggers provide an extra margin of reliability.


The HiperFire HiperTouch is an outstanding line of triggers which is turning heads in the industry and changing minds about what a great trigger can be.... Even if you are not a budding rap star. "I like great triggers and I cannot lie..."


SPECS
Shared Features of all Hipertouch triggers
No Screws, No Lower Modifications
AR15/10 Fire-Control
Robust Single Stage, Semi-Auto
User-Set Weights: Light, Med-Light, Medium (2-4lbs)
Small Pins: .154" Dia.
Best in Class Hammer Fall


I HIPERTOUCH 24 $185.00
Focus - High Performance, Service Rifle Upgrade
Smooth, Fast, Flat Pre-Travel & Reset


II HIPERTOUCH 24E $215.00
24Elite Enhancements
Focus - Competitive Shooters, Precision Hunting, & Precision LE/Military
Pre-Travel is Halved, Faster Reset
From Reset, Pre-Travel Shortened Again
Best in Class Reset


III HIPERTOUCH 24C $235.00
24Competition Enhancements
Focus - 3Gun, DMR/match target
Straight Trigger, Use w/ or w/o Exclusive Shoe
HIPERSHOE™: Fine tune Travel & Weight
Fast Splits and Controllable Repeat Fire
Retains Best in Class Reset


SOURCES
HiperTouch HiperFire Triggers - http://www.hiperfire.com/

Thursday, February 6, 2014

2013 Pandemian Product of the Year Awards

2013 Pandemian Product of the Year Awards

Unlike many of my editorial counterparts, I like to actually wait for the year to become reflective before I announce my Year’s Best selections for Firearms & Accessories. After my 2013 reviews wrapped up, I broke down what was the best of the best products of the 151 articles published and decided which deserved special recognition.  I call these awards the “Pandemian Product of the Year Awards”. Pandemian Award Winners were categorized three categories; “BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK”, “BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT”, and “Innovation Award”.  


PANDEMIAN BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK AWARD
The “Pandemian BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK “category awards was by far the toughest for me to range as there are some outstanding products out there without breaking the bank. Winners in that category delivered the challenging mix of extreme quality and value.


PANDEMIAN BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT AWARD
If your wallet has no limits, the “Pandemian BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT” category award is where you need to skim to. Each product in this category delivered some of the most feature rich products with exemplary quality. Even though some of the products in this category were not “the” most expensive I tested/featured, they proved themselves to be better in some way.


PANDEMIAN INNOVATION AWARD
“Pandemian Innovation Award” winners took the route less traveled and delivered something truly innovative to the market beyond another “Me Too” product. Winner in this category should be saluted for their innovation and out-of-the-box designs.


WHO WON WHAT?


RIFLES
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK RIFLE - BARNES PRECISION MACHINE BPM-15
Barnes Precision Continues to deliver the highest quality and most accurate rifle for the money and still manages to include innovative features that most high-end AR-15 still lack. You can spend more money and get fancier, however it will likely not out-shoot or deliver higher quality than the BPM.
Review Here - http://www.majorpandemic.com/2013/01/Best-Buy-AR15-Rifle.html


BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT Rifle - BLACK RAIN ORDNANCE FALLOUT-15
Over the last couple years, the tricked out and feature loaded Black Rain Fallout-15 reviewed back in 2011 continues to take my abuse and still deliver smiles from all the custom touches on this AR15. It also continues to be a great platform showcased in upgrades over the last year. I also like that fact that beyond the custom greatness of the rifles, they generously support charitable organizations.




RIMFIRE RIFLES
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK RIMFIRE RIFLE - FEDDERSEN TN RIDGERUNNER 10/22
When I first heard of a $550 Ruger 10/22 from Feddersen that could splip playing cards at 50-yards and deliver sub-.25” groups at that same distance, I was skeptical, but consider me a convert. Their 10/22 barrels are among the BEST BANG FOR THE BUCKon the market and their ready-to-compete TN Ridgerunner is the best deal going for precision 10/22.


BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT RIMFIRE RIFLE - KIDD 10/22
Once you move into the premium 10/22 bracket, accuracy is close, however Kidd has consistently delivered the top accuracy of any 10/22 owned which includes over a dozen at this point. Every Kidd component is exquisite museum quality which is art-in-action at the range which can deliver single hole 50-yard groups.  If you want the absolute best dressed 10/22 in black and stainless, Kidd is the top end of custom 10/22s.




HANDGUN
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK HANDGUN - WALTHER PPX 9MM
The Walther PPX deserves premium product attention with it ergonomics, looks, machining, and arguably the best trigger on a stock pistol outside of a factory custom 1911. It is becuase of these things that the Walther PPX deserves this award. If you want accuracy, reliability, comfort and features all at a value price point, the PPX would be my first choice.


BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT HANDGUN - SAI SALIENT G17 9MM
Hands down the transformation that SAI accomplished with a stock Glock G17 is stunning with a match grade trigger, silky smooth action, and ergonomics that somehow transform the Glock from wood-block ergonomics to perfection is an amazing facelift. If I could only shoot one handgun the rest of my life, this would be is.





CONCEALED CARRY HANDGUNS
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK CONCEALED CARRY PISTOL - KAHR CM-9 9MM
If the Glock 26 is still too bulky and the LCR too small with too much recoil consider the Kahr CM-9. This winner delivers 9mm power in a class leading size with a butter smooth trigger and excellent accuracy in a pocketable size. Add a Universal stick on Clipdraw adapter and you have an amazingly concealable gun with no holster necessary.


BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT CONCEALED CARRY PISTOL - WALTHER PPS 9MM
The Walther PPS is certainly not the most expensive concealed carry pistol however it somehow bridges the impossible between great ergonomics, very slim profile, and a perfect size that is carry perfection for purse, holster or waistband carry while still having the size to confidently use as a home defense firearm. Very accurate, reliable and with the looks, fit, finish, and features you would expect on any premium grade handgun. Just like the CM-9 a Universal Clipdraw is highly recommended.




OPTICS
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK MAGNIFIED OPTICS - NIKON P-223 3X32 CARBINE SCOPE
Crystal clear optics with a fast and user friendly BDC reticle & turret design delivers the best AR15 optics value I tested all year.  If I was equipping an army with rifle and optics this would be the optic of choice. The optic offers very little to go wrong paired with enough magnification to get your out to the 500-yard line.


BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT MAGNIFIED OPTICS - HI-LUX CMR4 1-4X24 SCOPE
Ultra-clear optics with illumination, circle-dot center reticle plus a extensive sub-mil BDC, MRAD resettable Turret adjustment, zero stop, left-handed windage adjustment… and the list goes on. Chances are that if you wish for a feature this optic has it. Shots out to 600 were simple with this optic.. I liked it so much I have two.




RED DOT OPTICS
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK RED DOT - BURRIS AR-F3
Burris’s first Fast Fire II was a great idea but not well executed. The Fast Fire III and AR-F3 AR15 focused updates deliver one of the best reflex sights on the market. The result is a fast and simple sight which has proven itself durable all in a tight and light package that is the perfect reflex sight for your AR15.

BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT RED DOT - EOTECH EXPS3-4 SIGHT & MAGNIFIER
When you want the best of the best red dot, you have to look toward the battle proven Eotech as the final answer for AR15 sights. Inexpensive? No, however they provide infallible durability. The EXPS3-4 delivers the best of both worlds; the classic Eotech Circle-Dot reticle with a 3X magnifier. Best and fastest 1x to 3x swapping sight I have tested.




TRIGGERS
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK AR TRIGGERS - CMC FLAT BLADE AR15
The difference between most of their high end triggers is a hair, whisper or just opinion, so why spend more for a difference you probably will not be able to perceive. CMC delivers an amazing quality trigger for about $50 less than the next relevant competitor.  My favorite is the Flat Blade which, to me, further increases trigger control.

BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT AR TRIGGERS - GEISSELE 2-STAGE SSA-E SUPER SEMI-AUTOMATIC ENHANCED AR15 Geissele established and owns the 2-stage trigger market since they were founded. Look down the rows and rows of top precision AR15 and AR .308 shooters and you will find that almost single one uses Geissele. The SSA-E offers mere mortals a non-adjustable combat drop-in trigger upgrade which delivers a superb trigger feel, fast resets, and consistent feel shot after shot.






AR15 HANDGUARDS
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK AR HANDGUARD - BPM ULTRALIGHT RAIL
The most sturdy and durable hadnguards are those that feature an expanded or solid barrel nut. BPM’s is steel and longer which supports the handguard more stiffly than any other I have tested. Thier handguard is also light, includes swivels, and QD mounts, and is small gauge for improved comfort. Add in that it also happens to accept Troy Squid Grips and you have arguably the stiffest and most comfortable handguard on the market.
BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT AR HANDGUARD - AP CUSTOM CARBON FIBER HANDGUARD
There are many carbon handguards on the market, however AP Custom stands out with a bit of extra style, craftsmanship, and features that put it ahead of the rest. Add one to your AR15 and you can drop up to 1lb form your rig’s weight, add the cool running capabilities of Carbon fiber no matter how hot the barrel gets, and still have flexibility to mount accessories and remove the handguard when needed.




CUTTING TOOLS
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK CUTTING TOOL - LEATHERMAN REBAR
Remember the old original Leatherman, however also remember you really wanted locking tools? Well your prayers were answered with the Leatherman Rebar. Everything in a multi-tool you want without any superfluous extras. This is an impossibly critical piece of everyday survival and is the epitome of simplicity and perfection.

BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT CUTTING TOOL - EXTREMA RATIO DOBERMAN IV MPK
There is good, better, and then best when it comes to tactical survival knives and then there is Extrema Ratio’s line. My personal favorite has been the Doberman which delivers cutting perfection with Italian style all for slightly less than a Ducati 999. So gorgeous you hate to use it.




LIGHTING
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK LIGHTING - PACKLITE 9V
Although reviewed in 2012, I featured this handy light throughout 2013. If you image a hgh output tactical light and a 9V battery having a baby it would be the PackLite. High output LEDS can run for up to 1200 hours straight on one 9V lithium battery. The best part is that any store has 9V batteries.


BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT LIGHTING - LED LENSER F1
The LED Lenser F1 outperforms name brand lights with twice the batteries that are three times the size. The fact that this light delivers such long lasting bright light form only on CR123 battery is amazing. The light is packed with features from strope to dimming modes in a package that is beautifully and artfully machined and finished. Truly the top end of personal tactical lighting.





PACKS
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK PACK - DRAGO TRACKER BACKPACK
Noting that Drago packs can often can be found for under $40, they are an amazing value that mandated recognition. This hydration compatible pack delivers more features than packs three times the cost in a 3-day sized pack that will handle daily commutes to apocalyptic bug out scenarios.


BEST PREMIUM PRODUCT PACK - 5.11 RUSH MOAB 10 PACK
Most of us are carrying tablets instead of laptops, e-books and magazines instead of pounds of paper, so why carry a giant pack when a slim and trim sized, high grade, quality single sling pack will do the job. Add in the secret fast-draw CCW pistol pocket and you have my favorite hydration pack of the year.



INNOVATION AWARDS


INNOVATION AWARD - MAKO SURVIVAL BUTTSTOCKWe all consider how we might carry an extra magazine just in case our AR15 magazine malfunctions or runs dry. Mako solved the dilemma with an innovative stock that holds any standard AR15 magazine. The stock comes with a 10-round magazine and is compatible with Mako’s monopod ButtStock pad.


INNOVATION AWARD - ROGERS SUPERSTOC
Remember how irritated you get when you $2000 AR15 stock rattles so much is sound like you kicked a box of scrap plastic down the stairs? Bill Rogers decided it was time to solve the problem once and for all with a Cam-Lock system stock that delivers the strength and rattle free stock to buffer tube fit. Install this stock on one AR15 and you will want one for every other AR you own.


INNOVATION AWARD -PWS T-3 SUMMIT 10/22 ACTION
The 10/22 has been around forever, but the aftermarket upgrade market has exploded with options. One of the big challenges for European individuals under a national semi-auto rifle ban was enjoying all the 10/22 had to offer so PWS developed the T-3 Toggle action receiver 100% compatible with all 10/22 parts. Along the way many including myself love the uniqueness of the PWS T-22 design and even believe it can increase accuracy to a sublime level.


INNOVATION AWARD - BLUEGRASS STOCK COMPANY MOSIN TACTICAL STOCK
If you have a Mosin you owe it to yourself to click on over to Bluegrass Stock company and see the stock options I first featured in my Transforming a Legend - Mosin Nagant article. The Tactical stock Bluegrass has developed is transformative for Mosin owners and delivers something amazingly fun and cheap to shoot that feels like your big expensive sniper rig.


INNOVATION AWARD - EXTAR EXP-556 PISTOL REVIEW
EXTAR is a new firearms company however the innovation of this AR15 pistol is off the charts. Not only is is nearly as light as your average Glock, it features a unique patented buffer-tubeless spring system, micro-length carrier, adjustable gas block, and design which is unlike anything on the market. Near MOA accuracy is maintained in a pistol that is scary fun to shoot.


INNOVATION AWARD Sharps Relia-Bolt
The AR15/M16 bolt has not changed since Stoner first designed the AR - Armalite Rifle. Sharps rifle company pulled together its best design and engineering talent and redesigned the AR15 bolt to reduce james, increase reliability and deliver faster and easier cleaning.  The Relia-Bolt with a design out-of-the box that can deliver big benefits in worst case reliability situations.